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HQ 086186

January 2, 1990

CLA-1 CO:R:C:G 086186 KWM


TARIFF NO.: 3923.90.0000, 7310.29.0000,
4819.50.4060, 6307.90.9050

Peter J. Fitch, Esq.
Fitch, King and Caffentzis
116 John Street
New York, New York 10038

RE: Jewelry Boxes

Dear Mr. Fitch:

This letter is in response to your inquiry dated December 20, 1989, regarding "boxes" designed to hold jewelry. With your letter, we received numerous samples of the types of containers to be imported by your client. For the reasons stated below, we agree with your contention that these items are not "jewelry boxes" within the purview of heading 4202 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (hereinafter "HTSUSA").


The goods at issue in this case are boxes and other containers used to display, transport and protect jewelry or other items such as pen and pencil sets, watches, rings and necklaces. The subject articles are used to display the jewelry (or other items) for sale in a commercial setting, and/or are given to the purchaser to transport the jewelry, etc., from the point of purchase to the home. Your letter indicates that goods such as these are not intended to be reused, nor are they for the purpose of travel. Rather, they are disposed of after the purchased merchandise has been taken into the home by the purchaser, where it may "kept by its owner in a 'proper' jewelry box".

Twelve samples were included with your inquiry. A precise description of the materials used in each item was not provided in your letter. Therefore, the descriptions below note only visible or unique features for identification purposes.

1775F - A square "folder" designed to hold a necklace. The item measures approximately 6 inches by 8+ inches. The exterior appears to be a velveteen or suede-like material with a plastic backing. The interior is satin-like material. On the inside, two straps snap to the body of the folder to hold a necklace in place, and two "flaps" cover the necklace. The ends of the folder are creased and fold back across each other to form the outer closure.

1732 - A cube-shaped plastic box, approximately 4 inches by 2+ inches by 4 inches, designed and fitted for holding a watch. The structure of the box is molded plastic and hinged along the back. Both interior and exterior surfaces appear to be 'flocked' with a textile-like material.

799B & "DQ Bracelet" - Slender rectangular boxes, measuring approximately 10 inches by 1 inch by 2 inches and 8+ inches by 1 inch by 2 inches. They are designed for holding a bracelet or watch. The structure of the box is molded plastic and has a hinge along the back. Both interior and exterior surfaces are covered with a textile-like material. The interior also has two "prongs" for securing a jewelry item inside the box.

1789L - A small box, measuring 3 inches by 1+ inches by 2 inches, with a structure of plastic. The external surfaces appear to be covered with paper simulating a leather surface. The interior is lined with a textile-like material.

1799PP & 1787PP - Rectangular boxes "for gifts of all types (pens, lighters, etc.)". The larger box, 1799PP, measures approximately 7 inches by 1, inches by 4+ inches, and the smaller, 1787PP, 3 inches by 1+ inches by 3+ inches. The structure of the box is molded plastic, and has a hinge along the back. The exterior is covered in a textile-like material. The interior may be fitted with inserts for holding a particular item.

FT202VP & FT201VP - Rectangular boxes similar in shape to items 1799PP and 1787PP, above. FT202VP, the larger box, measures 7 inches by 1, inches by 4+ inches, and FT201VP measures 6+ inches by 1, inches by 3+ inches. The basic structure of these items appears to be metal. The exterior is covered with textile-like material. The interior has two inserts, the top covered with satin material, and the bottom with textile. In addition, there are two "prongs" for holding jewelry in place.

HG207V & FT206RVP - Small square boxes identical in construction and material to FT202VP and FT201VP, above. HG207V measures 2 inches by 1+inches by 2 inches. FT206RVP measures 2+ inches by 1 + inches by 2 inches. These items do not have inserts.

FT204V - A small rectangular box identical in construction the boxes having metal structure noted above. This item is nested inside another box apparently constructed of paperboard. The external paperboard box appears to be covered with paper. The interior box, having the metal structure, measures 3+ inches by 1+ inches by 2+ inches.

Your letter indicates that these items have recently been classified as "jewelry boxes" in heading 4202, HTSUSA, by the port of Los Angeles. However, your letter also indicates that similar or identical items have been classified according to essential character by other U.S. ports. Your request is for clarification of this issue, and for a binding ruling classification regarding these items.


How are these items classified under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated?


Classification under the HTSUSA is made in accordance with the General Rules of Interpretation (hereinafter "GRI(s)") 1 through 5. The systematic detail of the harmonized system is such that virtually all goods are classified by application of GRI 1, that is, according to the terms of the headings of the tariff schedule and any relevant Section or Chapter Notes. Then, if GRI 1 fails to classify the goods, and if the headings and legal notes do not otherwise require, the remaining GRIs may be applied, taken in order.

Heading 4202, HTSUSA, would appear to encompass these goods in the terms of the heading. That heading provides, in pertinent part:

4202 . . . wallets, purses, map cases, cigarette cases, tobacco pouches, tool bags, sport bags, bottle cases, jewelry boxes, powder cases, cutlery cases and similar containers . . . (Emphasis added)

If these items are considered "jewelry boxes" of heading 4202, HTSUSA, they would be so classified by application of GRI 1. We are of the opinion, however, that these are not jewelry boxes as that term is used in the Nomenclature.

The language of the tariff schedules must be read in pari materia, or construed together with regard to the same subject matter. In this case, the terms of heading 4202, HTSUSA, all refer to items designed or fitted to hold, protect or store particular goods (e.g., maps, cigarettes, bottles or jewelry). Jewelry boxes of heading 4202, therefore, must be designed or specially fitted for holding and storing jewelry. In addition, the exemplars of heading 4202 are of a class of goods which are suitable for repeated, long-term use. The jewelry boxes of heading 4202, HTSUSA, then, must be of substantial construction such that they can be used to for long-term storage of jewelry.

Of the boxes at issue here, all are designed for the display of jewelry and related items as well as the transportation and protection of those items after purchase and up until the time of first use. Some are fitted with special features for displaying the jewelry. None of these items, however, are designed for repeated, long-term use or use with multiple items as, in our opinion, heading 4202 "jewelry boxes" would be. Goods such as these are provided with jewelry items as a type of premium packaging at the point of purchase. In our opinion, most will be disposed of shortly after the purchase, when storage in a more suitable jewelry box is available. Viewed in pari materia with the other items set out in heading 4202, HTSUSA, it is clear to us that the term "jewelry boxes" does not include these goods.

Since we find no other headings within the nomenclature whose terms would specifically include boxes such as these, GRI 1 is inconclusive. These items must be classified by determining essential character on the basis of component materials, according to GRIs 2 and 3. Under GRI 2, any reference to a material or an article made of a material includes goods made wholly or in part of that material. GRIs 3(a) & (b) hold that goods such as these which are prima facie classifiable under two or more headings are classified by determining which of the component materials provides the goods with its essential character. The Explanatory Notes to GRI 3(b) indicate that there are no hard and fast rules for determining essential character. Each case involves an individual evaluation of such factors as weight, value, bulk, marketability, etc. The samples at issue here are composite goods which should be classifiable as products of textile, plastic or metal, depending upon which of these materials gives the product its essential character. If no determination of essential character can be made, then classification will be under the competing HTSUSA provision which appears last in the nomenclature, pursuant to GRI 3(c), HTSUSA.


Without information as to the component materials of the containers in this case, we are unable to provide a binding ruling as to their classification. However, the subject containers will be classified as containers or articles made of the component material which provides the item's essential character, pursuant to GRI 3(b), HTSUSA. Where essential character cannot be determined, classification shall be made under the competing provision for containers or articles of the various component materials, among those which equally merit consideration, which appears last in the HTSUSA.


John A. Durant
Commercial Rulings Division

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